This was a holiday of firsts. The first time I had ever been away on my own, the first time I had shared a room with a stranger and my first Ramblers Worldwide holiday. I arrived at Las Palmas airport with some trepidation. Would I keep up with the walks? Would I like my room-mate? Would I fit in with the group? Would everyone be nice to me? It felt like my first day at school and my two children were like anxious parents, checking up on me by text.
I am happy to say that all my worries were groundless and I had a really good time. My room-mate, Diana, was good fun and we went out several times together. One essential attribute: she wasn’t chatty in the early morning! Everyone in the group was friendly and it was interesting for me to hear about other Ramblers Worldwide holidays people had taken. Our walk leader, Diane, was friendly and very conscientious. She researched all the restaurants to give us enjoyable and varied evenings and she led the walks without a hitch. On the last day when we had to abort our walk because of torrential rain, she went to the trouble of organising a shorter walk along the sea shore for those of us who were crazy enough to brave the conditions.
We weren’t fortunate with the weather and, on the first day, cascades of water were rushing down the hillside as we climbed up the pathway. I was glad to have my poles with me. For the lunch stop, Diane went into a café and managed to persuade the owner to let us eat our sandwiches inside if we all bought a coffee – a small price to pay. The only upside of the rain was the spectacular rainbow which appeared with the sun and spanned the whole valley.
On the second day, we had better conditions and enjoyed a walk to the bottom of the volcano crater at Bandama where we met a couple with a baby in a sling which put our efforts into perspective! We stopped to chat to a farmer and admire his beautiful big red poinsettia trees. He told us that he only goes up to the top of the crater once a week to buy essentials. The climb back up and the walk around the rim of the crater was enhanced by the early spring wildflowers such as euphorbia, broom and wild orchids and lilies.
A highlight of the holiday was a walk we did through the almond trees growing up the hillside. They were in full bloom and the blossom was stunning. Tiny petals drifted down on us as we walked underneath. We also passed through orange groves, heavy with fruit, and patches of wild geraniums, fennel, white daisies and miniature marigolds. There was a profusion of prickly pear cactuses – most of them displaying their round red fruit.
All the walks were interesting and I would say quite energetic in that we climbed up – sometimes over 4,000 feet – and then had to scramble down again over harsh terrain. The rain made the rocky paths fairly treacherous. However, when the weather was clear, we did get marvellous views over the hills and valleys. When it wasn’t, we were above the clouds. We started one of our walks at the island’s highest village, Artenara, with its replica of the Rio statue of Christ the Redeemer watching over it. From there we could look down right to the sea. The whole area is very green and lush and looks wonderful when the sun is shining.
The south of the island tends to have better weather and on one of the days I took the bus down there to chill out on the beach in the sunshine which was very pleasant indeed. I even had a massage for my aching muscles.
I returned home with happy memories, promises to stay in touch and a suitcase of muddy washing. I can’t wait to book my next Ramblers Worldwide holiday.